Content marketers often get lost in numbers to generate quality B2B leads for a SaaS company. They get busy trying to find a perfect formula which brings the highest ROI to their business. While juggling with different content marketing ideas to reach out to the target audience, generating quality leads, and boosting conversions, marketers forget the purpose of creating a content, which is to deliver value to your audience through worthy information.
If you fail in adding value to your user’s daily life, you’ll fail in converting them into customers, and, eventually, fail in achieving those goals that you’ve set for yourself. You don’t have to have a great product or service, nor do you require to be the cheapest service provider. All you have to do is crack the formula that makes you the best seller.
85% of B2B marketers consider lead generation their top challenge.
The question arises: what are the factors that help content marketers find the best formulas to sell their product or service in the best way? What are important things they easily miss out on while building a content marketing plan?
In this episode of Rocketpod, our guest, Kevan Lee, Director of Marketing at Buffer, shares some valuable insights on how they found the formula to make Buffer one of the best tools available in social media space. Apart from understanding user base, mixing experiments, and tracking growth, Buffer found it’s own way through the journey. We started by asking tips on how to generate quality B2B leads for your business. Kevan spoke about some surprising and impressive facts about how Buffer achieved its reputation of a highly reputed social media tool. Here’s what he shared:
Viral marketing is one of the best ways to generate more leads:
Buffer doesn’t follow a lead capture or lead nurture business model. The marketing goals are more focused on creating influence through quality content which creates authority in the social media space. One of the ways to do this, which worked out exceptionally well for Buffer, is by experimenting with viral marketing. Though it may be a bit hard to measure the results, creating a word-of-mouth creates longer lasting customers and stronger leads. On asking why Buffer opted for viral marketing at first place, Kevan draws an example from his conversation with the MailChimp team on the importance of “word-of-mouth” marketing. Today, if marketers think of an email marketing solution, MailChimp is the first name that pops in their head. Buffer wanted to do something similar to this strategy.
The idea was to create such an impact on the target audience that “Buffer” and “the best social media tool” becomes synonymous for marketers.
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Never stop experimenting:
On asking how B2B SaaS companies can find their niche across various platforms the way Buffer found their niche in social media marketing, Kevan says that’s it takes a long journey for one to find what kind of content would work for their brand across various platforms. Buffer started creating content on life hacks and productivity tips on a large scale. That helped them drastically in building page authority, backlinks, and distributing it on various channels. It worked well in creating brand awareness for a growing startup. But these exercises didn’t drive many conversions, nor did it establish Buffer as the best tool for marketers in the social media space. Hence, they changed their content marketing strategy and started writing high-quality content on social media practices. The previous content plan worked in building a foundation for their blog and the second approach helped them reach their objective of reaching the right people. His advise is to generate content tied closely to the product.
The content should be able to provide a problem that the target audience commonly faces, and pitch the brand as one of the best solutions to overcome the hurdle. About finding the right audience for your brand, Kevan adds that keeping a close eye on the competitors to watch their strategies and how they are targeting their audience on different platforms is a quick way to scale up.
Think through your marketing funnel:
On asking about what distribution strategy works best for Buffer, Kevan sheds light on the early days when they created a series of guest posts for other websites and reached out to people who would pitch these blogs to other big websites. Next, they worked hard on distributing their content through newsletter and emails. They aimed to grow their list to 100,000 emails and made the most of the data collected. Now, most of their traffic comes from organic search. Kevan emphasises how to break your content plan into a three-part funnel to plan content distribution methodically. He shared some examples from their own content strategy. At the bottom of the funnel lays all the social media content that is easily shareable and sounds tangential
The middle of the funnel is a bit more inclined toward social media tactics. They created a series of “how-to” articles, educating their audience about social media marketing. Some of these articles also involve using Buffer as a solution. They maintain a 5:1 ratio while creating blogs for these two parts to keep analysing the audience behavior and results to implement changes in the top funnel. Based on these results, they improvise their content strategy and skew more heavily to the top of the funnel.
Kevan adds that they really wanted to deliver quality content to social media managers, who are also their customers. The idea is to share as much valuable content with the managers that they can use in their everyday work life. Which means, they had to shift their focus to only one part of the funnel to drive traffic to content which is more specific to the job of social media managers.
“Don’t expect anything major to happen in the first six months, and don’t expect anything really significant to happen for at least a year.” – Kevan Lee, Buffer
Keep a healthy mix of content types:
Another part of their content marketing strategy, Kevan points out, is to keep a mix of trending articles and keyword-search based articles. When the time arises that you need to write about something which is happening and trending at the moment, it’s not necessary to stick to well-searched keywords. The only focus is on providing something vital to social media marketers. Keeping a good mix of both assures that you don’t miss out on anything important, be it just a quick update on social media marketing or an in-depth article on solutions.
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Choose value over ROI:
On asking how Buffer calculates their ROI of their content marketing strategies, Kevan shares that they don’t calculate their ROI from content very seriously. Buffer believes in sharing valuable content with their audience. They don’t tie investments with their content marketing strategy. He believes that content marketing is not something that one can tie hard numbers. But in case you’re a company who is very budget focused or when things are out of influence, ROI becomes a big deal in such scenarios.
There are several factors to check your ROI, which starts from calculating how much you’re investing in your writers, blog hosting fees, or if you’re paying for different tools or plugins for the blog. Any amount of money spent on creating content should be a factor in the formula to calculate ROI.
Content marketing is 80% creation and 20% distribution:
Kevan shares his inputs on how they allocate time for curation and content distribution. According to him, curation is about going out and finding stuff, while creation is about bringing that stuff back and write an article. While it’s a norm to spend 20% of your time in creating an article and 80% of your time distributing it, Buffer does it backward. Kevan shares that they distribute content through Search, their main focus is to create SEO-strong articles. They make sure they are adding the right keywords, adding more value by researching on the subject, etc.
As we know that distribution requires more time than creation. Hence, a marketer can compensate for that by spending more time in curation and creation of the content. For Buffer, Kevan adds, content marketing has been a great way to generate leads. They believed in providing value to their customers which in return helped them grow.
“Content is the reason search began in the first place.” – Lee Odden
Customer support is the key to find user behavior
Kevan says customer support is a great way to find out why your users are loyal to you. The ease of using your tool, how it performs in comparison to other tools available, the company culture and philosophy are some factors that also add to customer loyalty. There are a few actual retention loops within the product which is helping those customers stick around. Things like NPS survey helps the team gauge who is their loyal customer and what does their activity look like. Based on the data collected by these factors, Buffer tries to encourage others to have a similar kind of activity lifecycle within the product.
As customer support is able to provide them with insights on their customer activities, Buffer has a dedicated person for community work. It can lead to great results when done right. It also provides with insights on how their community fits in different parts of the customer journey through the customer lifecycle.
- Be patient with your content experiments, all good things take time.
- Always aim to add value to your users to build a lasting relationship with them and turn them into loyal customers.
- Spend 80% of your time in curating and creating valuable content and 20% time in distribution. If your content is strong on the SEO part, Search will do the rest for you.
- Take cues from customer support. It can show you what your users feel about your service and where they lie in your sale cycle.
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